In Outlast, The Greatest Horror Enemy Of All… Is Man

By Nathan Grayson on October 18th, 2012 at 11:00 am.

Man in general, I mean. Not just this one. He's not really that great. Just pretty alright.

There are many frightening things in this world. Some of them are to be expected – for instance, giant, violently writhing millipedes and whatever primeval force gave Gary Busey the power to “smile.” Other things, meanwhile, are less expected. Things like penguin mouths. And still others are so expected that they’ve lost their chill-inducing mystique entirely. That’s where videogame monsters enter the picture. I mean, it’s always monsters, right? Around corners, in ventilation shafts, being president – they’re so predictable. So I can definitely respect Outlast – a new PC-only scare-’em-up from folks who worked on Splinter Cell, Prince of Persia, Assassin’s Creed, and Uncharted – and its plan to instead focus on intelligent, truly evil (or at least crazy) human beings.

Admittedly, Outlast isn’t entirely bereft of cliches. I mean, it takes place in an asylum, which is something I may actually end up in if I’m forced to play one more game that takes place in an asylum. But, if nothing else, its goal sounds fairly novel.

“Acting on a tip from an inside source, independent journalist Miles Upshur breaks into the facility, and what he discovers walks a terrifying line between science and religion, nature and something else entirely. Once inside, his only hope of escape lies with the terrible truth at the heart of Mount Massive.”

“There are already a lot of great games out there about terrifying monsters that eat brains; we want Outlast’s to be scary because you’ll know the enemies you face still have them.”

Red Barrels is also billing Outlast as “a true survival-horror experience,” which could mean just about anything these days. It adds, however, that it’s an independent studio focused on creating single-player games, so I don’t imagine it agrees with the definitions subscribed to by, say, Resident Evil 6 and Dead Space 3.

There’s not much else to say at the moment, but Red Barrels has passed along a fairly impressive-looking teaserthing, so go! Be teased – and perhaps even titillated. But, you know, probably not, because this would be a pretty weird thing to be titillated by.

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60 Comments »

  1. skyturnedred says:

    Those humans seem like monsters to me. Glowing eyes and all.

    • LTK says:

      Looks like a monster. Sounds like a monster. Walks like a human, though.

      • JackShandy says:

        I seem to remember some other game that had humanoid opponents like this. Crazy guys, ran at you wildly, tried to eat your brains… maybe I’m imagining it.

    • FlyingDog says:

      It’s being captured through a camera set to low-light mode. Any light reflected off the eyeball would be captured and intensified, thus producing the glowing look.

  2. GallonOfAlan says:

    Nothing has yet matched the Shalebridge Cradle in asylum terms.

    • Claidheamh says:

      This doesn’t particularly seem like it will, either.

    • Howard says:

      As much as I am a fan of that game, I still don’t get why people found it in any way scary. The “monsters” in there were just laughable to me and disembodied girl’s voices are just overdone.
      Silent Hill 2 still holds the title of the only game that spooked me. I don’t think it would ever be possible for a game to actually scare me in any meaningful way though.

    • Shooop says:

      I’ve watched a lot of video of that and I still can’t get why people consider it so terrifying.

      It’s atmospheric and creepy sure, but it looks like it plays like a routine “dodge the men” segment.

      • puppybeard says:

        It’s all about the presentation, I was thrilled by it.

        Also, it’s not just “dodge the men”, it’s also, “get uncomfortably close to the men, who you can’t hurt using any of the weapons you’ve come to rely on”.

        The thing about horror in my opinion, which it shares with comedy, is that the same things don’t hit the target for everybody.

        • Highstorm says:

          Couldn’t you kill them with flash bombs? It’s been awhile since I played it, but I seem to recall doing that to get through. Took a lot of the scare out of it.

          Not that I wasn’t scared still, but that’s because I’m a pansy. :S

          • sbs says:

            I don’t think it killed them, but flasbangs were crazy powerful against them.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Too many games to mention were scarier than that moment, I think.

      But I think it’s so iconic because it was unexpectedly scary in an other wise pleasant steal em up.

    • Pony Canyon says:

      This sounds rather pathetic amongst all of these ‘it wasn’t even scary’ comments, but I couldn’t bring myself to get past that level for an entire year.

      My first experience with a Resident certainly didn’t help either. I set up a ton of traps/mines in a tight hallway and lured one in. Heavy explosions erupted from the hallway – I poked my head out and saw the resident crumpled in a heap on the ground. Victory! I decided to set up the traps again and lure another in – I would take them down one at a time like this. I step into the hallway and the thing suddenly stands up and eats my face. I cowered in a corner for an hour after that.

      • sbs says:

        Hahah, I launched about 2 quivers worth of broadheads into my first one, just to see how many they can take. He collapses, I go “oh well let’s pick that lock right about where his body is lying, whoop dee doo”.
        So I was basically sitting on it and playing a minigame when it woke up – that horrible, horrible sound they made, it was right in my loud headphones, I actually jumped out of the chair that time.

  3. Tyrone Slothrop. says:

    Come now, better an asylum or the psychological realm than high-fantasy.

  4. JackShandy says:

    Boy, real-time hand-to-wall connections! This game will revolutionize the first-person avatar.

    • tobecooper says:

      I just hope that hand-to-wall action doesn’t mean the game is scripted to the balls.
      Nothing destroys horror more than repetition.

      • Saldek says:

        Rest assured, there will also be real-time balls-to-the-wall connections.

    • Synesthesia says:

      i liked that too! Lets hope its not a cutscene of sorts, but actual animation tht happens when you are hidden. I love games that render the body you are supposedly inside of. More of that!

    • Shodex says:

      Well, Uncharted 3 had Nate petting the walls as he passed. Maybe this is the Uncharted dev’s contribution.

  5. Eddy9000 says:

    Nothing cliched, fantastical or grossly unrealistic about presenting people with mental health problems as dangerous, unpredictable killers. Nosiree.

    • Squiffy says:

      Exactly. I find this kind of thing really troubling.

    • Syra says:

      THEY ARE CRAZY MURDERERS DAMN IT!

    • maninahat says:

      No doubt it will also involve a sadistic psychiatric team who do evil experiments on the inmates too. This is also not a cliche.

      • Eddy9000 says:

        While an exaggeration, I do think that this particular trope plays off the very real injustice that the psychiatric understanding and treatment of human experience can do to people whose thoughts are considered to be unusual.

        • The Random One says:

          This cliché walks a fine line between offensive, merely ignorant, and actually interesting. We’ll probably have to wait for more info on the game to know.

        • Eddy9000 says:

          If anyone’s interested this is the first form of treatment to explicitly claim “tranquilisation” as a goal. ‘Tranquilising’ medication took its name from this chair before being further misrepresented as disorder specific ‘anti-psychotic/depressant” etc. The desired effects of both the chair and the pills are arguably the same.

          https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=the+tranquiliser+chair&hl=en&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=4zWAUIKLHaaA4gSrr4DgBQ&ved=0CD4QsAQ&biw=1745&bih=860

          • aldo_14 says:

            That chair dates from around the 1810s. About the same time that (non-psychiatric) medicines included preparations of mercury and arsenic, and treatments ranged from induced vomiting, laxatives and leeches. By which I mean that it’s not really valid to relate it to the methods, science, or any other component of modern psychiatric medicine.

            There are, of course, always issues to be addressed with the forms of treatment (and especially the role of marketing in encouraging certain diagnoses and/or prescriptions) – just in a more scientifically rigorous manner than ‘ooh, look at this scary chair. And it’s still happening!‘.

        • maninahat says:

          Oh, there is certainly a historical basis for all the unpleasantness, but I’d like to think that in this day and age, there are doctors who actually help psychiatric patients. A lot of the more maligned treatments did have some success. Shock therapy, for instance, gets a lot of bad press in fictional settings despite it working in real life.

          I think K-Pax is the only movie I’ve ever seen in which the psychiatrists aren’t bad guys.

          • Eddy9000 says:

            There is plenty of criticism of modern psychiatric practice from both within and without the profession, it’s kind of my field. The example of the chair is a demonstration that whilst methods have changed the principles (social control, subjugating people that dissent from social norms, tranquilising or literally silencing them) still bears simirality to its historical precident. And yeah, modern psychiatric medicine can be as harmful as the chair, it just doesn’t look as creepy, and that’s the insidious thing about it.

            As for shock treatment ‘working’, I think you should read more. Even the biggest proponents of it will admit that it helps a third, makes no difference for another third and damages the rest. It’s critics will tell you that experiencing the euphoric effects of brain damage does not a cure make. I’ve worked with plenty of people with ECT dementia who thought it was working until they had to have it agin, and again, and eventually didn’t know who they were anymore.

    • DrGonzo says:

      It’s a bit distasteful, especially having known someone who spent a few decades in a mental institution being abused by staff.

      Thing is, mental institutions are incredibly scary at first, and it would be interesting to have a game explore that more realistically, showing how grey it really is.

  6. Wodge says:

    RE: Penguin Mouths.

    DO NOT WANT, CAN’T UNSEE! HOW DARE YOU DIRTY MY MIND UP WITH THE HORRORS!

    • Xlucko says:

      I think penguin mouths look cute compared to leatherback sea turtle mouths.

  7. Mr. Mister says:

    I’d say being based in an asylum isn’t cliched as long as the crazyness of the poeple is a plot point.

    • DJ Madeira says:

      It’s definitely cliched either way; but just because something is cliche doesn’t mean it can’t be good (XCOM’s enemies being an example)

  8. The Tupper says:

    I have a mild phobia of the inside of grand pianos. Seriously.

    • maninahat says:

      That actually makes sense to me.

      But then I have a mild phobia of hungry babies crying whilst doting parents give them too much food. And a phobia about clipping toe nails.

      • The Tupper says:

        At least someone understands me.

        I was confessing my (mild) phobia to Mrs The Tupper just after commenting here (she thinks I’m crackers) and she looked it up to see if it had a name. The main link on Google came to this here article and my own comment. I’m now proud of my unnamed and very exclusive phobia.

        • The Random One says:

          You could name the condition after yourself! Tupperphobia!

          You could also name it thetupperphobia, but then it sounds like you’re bragging. “I don’t have any old tupperphobia… I have THE tupperphobia.”

    • DrGonzo says:

      I think that’s completely fair! I’ve snapped a few guitar strings in my time and it can be quite painful, I’ve always thought that piano strings would rip your eye right out. Guess I’m a little phobic of it too!

      • The Tupper says:

        It’s not any perceived physical danger that gets me. I find the strings and frame inside a grand piano vaguely disgusting in an organic way. Weird me.

  9. Durkonkell says:

    You’re on a scenic route through a state recreational area known as the human mind. You ask a passer-by for directions, only to find he has no face or something. Suddenly up ahead, a door in the road. You swerve, narrowly avoiding…

    The Scary Door.

    Scientist: I have combined the DNA of the world’s most evil animals to make the most evil creature of them all!

    PSHHHHH.

    Naked Man: It turns out it’s man.

  10. The Random One says:

    Mount Massive? Really? Why not go all the way and call it Mount Big McLargehuge?

    Here, I’ll find a more interesting name for you in two minutes. *goggles “patron saint psych”* Mount St. Dymphna. There. You can have that name, devs. I won’t even charge for this one.

  11. Shooop says:

    So far they’ve got the perfect sound design.

    If they do this right, it’ll be a blend of “OHSWEETJESUSFUCKHELP” panic like the trailer and slow-burning dread.

    What I’m saying I guess is it’ll be like Amnesia.

  12. Brossacks says:

    Buff, shirtless bald men are truly the creatures of true horror.

  13. Dudeist says:

    Yawn….

  14. hosndosn says:

    >”Admittedly, Outlast isn’t entirely bereft of cliches.”

    That’s a bit of an understatement…